Flower Facts

Thirteen Poisonous Plants and Flowers to Stay Away From

Poisonous Plants

Throughout history, plants and flowers have been famed not just for their fragrance and beauty but also their potential dark side. Yes, that gorgeous bundle of blooms and greenery can also be highly toxic to humans and animals, causing skin irritation, illness, and even death.

Understandably it’s a good idea to know what dangerous plants you need to stay away from. As we’re ever helpful here at Bouqs and love talking about all things flora, here are 13 of the most important poisonous plants and flowers to be able to recognize and avoid in the wild.


Poisonous Plants to Steer Clear Of

If you’re an avid gardener or lover of nature, coming across new and interesting plants is all part of the joy of nature. Unfortunately, while most are fun to inspect and investigate, and even eat in some cases, there are also many dangerous plants lurking in the undergrowth. Here are the main ones you’re likely to come across:

  1. Deadly Nightshade

With such an ominous name it’s hardly a surprise that Deadly Nightshade isn’t exactly a nature lover’s best friend. The legend of Macbeth has it that his troops poisoned an invading Danish army with wine made from its berries. It’s not just bearded Vikings who’d be attracted to such a plant, either. With its bright black, plump berries, children and curious pets are especially at risk of being tempted to taste the fruit.

The stems, leaves, berries, and roots all contain atropine and scopolamine which cause paralysis of involuntary muscles (i.e., your heart.) It can also cause severe skin irritation just from coming in contact with its leaves.

  1. Castor Bean

Though castor oil has long been a multi-use ingredient in home remedies, the seeds themselves, before being processed are actually considerable sources of the poison ricin. In fact, the plant’s Latin name Ricinus communis is a bit of a giveaway. Native to Africa it is nevertheless found in many gardens as an ornamental but as few as one or two seeds can be fatal for a child.

  1. Tobacco

Up to five million people die from tobacco-related diseases every year. This is generally because of the damage caused through smoking, but even in its non-flammable form it is one of the most poisonous plants around. It contains nicotine (a common ingredient in most insecticides) and anabasine, which can be fatal if eaten.

  1. Mistletoe

The Christmas favorite for tipsy family members weirdly looking to steal kisses, mistletoe can ruin your holidays in more ways than one. This is because ingesting the berries, leaves, or shoots can cause severe abdominal pain and diarrhea. Extreme cases can even lead to death through cardiovascular collapse and they are also extremely toxic to cats and dogs.

  1. Wisteria

The fictitious street of the Desperate Housewives was doomed to poisonous behavior right from the start. Wisteria trees, though beautiful when in bloom, also have highly toxic seeds. They are known to cause vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and depression of the central nervous system.

  1. Water Hemlock

When something is described as “the most violently toxic plant in North America” you can probably guess it is something to steer clear of. This is the case with Water Hemlock which can sometimes be confused with edible stuff like celery and parsnips. Violent convulsions are just one of the effects of its poison (along with death) while survivors have been known to suffer amnesia and tremors for the rest of their lives.


Poisonous Flowers to Steer Clear Of

It’s not just the thorns of a rose which give reason to be wary of flowers, some of those pretty petals can also be quite poisonous too. Everything should be fine, though, as long as you keep yourself, kids, and pets away from the these poisonous flowers.

  1. Oleander

Blooming in pink, white, yellow, and red, oleanders are always pretty to have around the house. Watch out though, the entire plant is toxic from petals to roots. Symptoms can include dehydration, a slowed heartbeat, and possibly even death.

  1. Lily of The Valley

With toxic compounds, known as cardiac glycosides, ingesting Lily of the Valley can cause an abrupt trip to the hospital, with dizziness, vomiting, and rashes being common symptoms. These little bells are also highly toxic to animals, especially cats.

  1. Rhododendron

Beware, the easy-growing and big-bloomed rhododendrons in your garden are packing a dangerous punch. The results of eating a small amount of the leaf, flower, or indeed any part of the plant can be frothing of the mouth, violent vomiting, a slow heart rate and lowered blood pressure, leading to coma and possible death.

  1. Hydrangea

One of the most popular “true blue” flowers around, hydrangeas have a bit of a nasty secret. That being that its flowers and leaves contain cyanogenic glycosides, basically the same as cyanide pills, which cause dizziness, convulsions, and fainting.

  1. Foxglove

The dainty little foxglove is actually full of digital poison, i.e., digitalin, digitonin, and digitoxin. While these might sound like some new technology start-up, they in are fact highly toxic chemicals. They are especially dangerous for deer, as well as other animals, though children have died from ingesting them.

  1. Poinsettia

While there have only ever been two cases of death caused by the poinsettia’s poisonous sap, they remain dangerous. Cats and dogs are especially vulnerable to this tropical garden favorite so take extra care of your furry friends around them.

  1. Clematis

Take care to wear gloves while pruning any clematis flowers in your garden or bouquet of cut flowers. They contain anemonin which affects both humans and animals. The effects can range from reasonably mild dermatitis and skin irritation to mouth ulcers to more serious nausea and drooling in dogs and horses.


Naturally, when bringing flowers into your home, you’re going to want to know which might potentially cause problems. Our artisanal florists are experts in the potential problems related to flowers as well as the creation of handcrafted bouquets. Get in touch with them to find out more.

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